Restlessness and the Pursuit of Happiness

“And how is work going?”

“Work is going good, I really can’t complain.  But . . . I don’t know I have been in kind of rut, it is hard to focus.”  *My mother made some soothing listening nosies* “I’m not sure exactly what is wrong because honestly I have a great job with great bosses, I should be happy with it.”  *more soothing listening noises*

Then finally realizing I would never get there on my own, she chimed in, “You’re restless.”

“Well, I mean I don’t know . . . yeah I suppose you are right.  I’m restless.”

My whole life I have struggled to be content, even in the times when life is relatively good. I didn’t want to live my whole life waiting for the next best thing.  I had to learn to think of life as a journey not a destination.  It wasn’t so much about where I was going in life that mattered but what happened along the way.  It helped with the restlessness because I started seeing life as something to enjoy as is and not as somewhere I needed to get to. I do mean helped.  I am far from cured.

I started spending a lot of time reading and thinking about what it meant to actually enjoy my life no matter where I was or what my circumstances were. Life gets hard and it moves way too fast.  I have been trying to find ways to make the most out of the time I have and the best out of the bad situations.  In my youth and naivety I decided to create a list of things which have helped enjoy my life a little bit more.  I don’t want to saying that this list has made me happy, because happiness is fleeting and not something that can be permanently attained.  But these things have at least made me happier and less restless.

1) Embrace the silences.

If you are like me you have to be constantly doing something, constantly multitasking.  I can’t just sit and eat supper.  I have to eat supper, watch tv, and catch up on my social media.  Which is ridiculous, but background noise has become a must for many of us.  We are so use to our fast paced society where things are constantly trying to grab our attention that we have lost sight of the simplistic beauty of just sitting and doing nothing at all.   It opens up a window for the unexpected.  We need to have those margins of blank space in our life.

Don’t be scared of the silences, because you may find that in those moments some of the best things in your life will happen.

2) Put the phone down. 

Put down the phone, now back away. Seriously, I mean it.  It is stressful to accessible 24/7.  I am on the phone all the time at work.  And if I am not on the phone, I am answering emails. I constantly being needed.  Don’t get me wrong I love helping people, so I really do like that part of my job.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting. I started just leaving my phone in my purse when I got home from work and wouldn’t look at it for at least an hour.  Do you know what happened?  Nothing.  The world didn’t end because it suddenly couldn’t reach me for an hour.  I found that I really didn’t even miss my phone because I was too busy actually enjoying life.

There are so many small intricacies of life that are missed when we are constantly glued to the front of our phone.

3) Do things you think make you look stupid.

We have this never ending fear of looking stupid to other humans.  So much so that we often miss out on some of the best experiences in life because we are afraid of how they will look to others, especially if we fail at them.  Try new things.  You might fail and look like a dork, but you might always have a really great time and love it.  Here is a secret – No one really cares.  I mess up and do stupid stuff all the time.  We shouldn’t have to give ourselves permission to be human and do stupid things, but we do.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to ride my yellow moped around.  I look like a complete dork.  In my head I like to think that I look like a tough bad ass biker girl, but the reality is that there is no way to look cool while riding a moped.   However, I am having so much fun that I don’t care if I look like a dork.  Once you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, you can actually start to do the things you really enjoy.

Dance like a fool, it will be fun I promise.

4) Give yourself permission to say no to social obligations. 

On a daily basis I have a friend or co-worker confide in me that they have to do this thing they really don’t want to do. I would politely ask them, “So why are you doing it?”  They never really had a good reason other than they just have to.  I understand where they are coming from, because I use to not be able to say no to anything.  I didn’t think I had a choice in the matter.

I learned that the world is very capable of going on without me. 

We create for ourselves so many social obligations that we think we have to do.  There are defiantly some things in life that we have to do,  or times when you have to just do something because you are a good friend. That being said we also do a lot of things out of “social obligation” that no one is actually requiring us to do.  People don’t actually care as much as we think they do, and the world doesn’t really need us as much as we think it does.

If something makes you miserable, do yourself a favor and just don’t do it. Steve Jobs quote5) Realize that money is meant to be spent.

Oh how we antagonize over spending money.  Yes it is a gut wrenching feeling to see how quickly our hard earned cash disappears on a weeks worth of gas and groceries.  But guess what, your money will come back in your next pay check and will disappear again into more groceries, gas, rent, and bills.

We can either make ourselves miserable every time this happens or accept the fact that the only reason we have money is to spend it.  Now I am absolutely not trying to advocate for consumerism.  I am merely trying to advocate for a health relationship with our cash, one that takes away the power money holds over us.  Because if we are honest with ourselves we begin to realize just how money focused and money driven we are as a society. Relax it will be okay.

Use good money management but don’t let your money manage you. 

6)  Give yourself permission to laugh.

Go ahead laugh at the stupid stuff, its okay.  One of my favorite things about my co-workers is that we laugh at each other all the time.  We act like a family in that.  About a week ago I walked into my co-workers office just in time to see him completely slide out of his chair.  I will not forget the confused look on his face as he slide right down to the floor.  He turned a bright shade of red, and I was laughing so hard I almost ended up on the floor too.  It was fabulous.  Poor guy.

Life gets rough and bad things will happen.  We cannot change that or stop them from happening.  It is okay to laugh and enjoy ourselves when good things happen.  If we can focus on those things, then the bad things don’t seem as bad.

7) Messes are okay.

Life gets crazy sometimes, and I do mean like burritos being hurled at your car crazy.  I use to think that perfection was something to strive for.  I learned to embrace the messiness that is life because those often end up being the parts that become the most memorable.  My sister has this cute saying on her kitchen wall that goes “Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, and happy kids.”  I think that is a beautiful way to raise a family.  Because when her kids are grown up they are not going to look back and think “wow we had really clean floors growing up.”   Her kids will however remember the times that they played in the puddles and mud way too late past bedtime.

I will take a life filled with memories over a picture perfect life any day.

8) Pursue your dreams relentlessly.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of what it is we actually want.  Especially if you are someone who has to put the needs of other before themselves.  It can be easy to loose sight of our dreams, or to dismiss them as just a nice thought nothing more.  If you let go of what makes you you what do you have left? I have seen marriages fail because each person gave up everything that was unique about them to be with the other person only to discover they lost the person they were in love with.  Self-sacrifice has its place but so should pursuing the parts of you that make you feel the most alive.  Find what makes your heart beat a little faster and chase it.

Trust your gut.  You will know when you find it.  Your steps will take you where you are suppose to go if you can have the courage to follow them.

Its seems silly that I had to learn to give myself permission to do the things I actually wanted to do.  I shouldn’t need to give myself permission to be myself.   But when there are so many other people trying to tell you who you should be, your own voice can get lost.  It is easy to start to believing that we as we are is not enough.  We begin to believe that we are not deserving of happiness.  The more we believe that the more we reinforce it with out own thinking.  We end up sabotaging our happiness with the words we tell ourselves everyday and the thoughts that fill our silences.

You are enough, you do enough.  

It is simple as that.  Everything else will follow.

Love,

– L

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